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July 13, 2014, 3:13 pm

Trial begins in beating death of pregnant mother

The trial began Thursday for two brothers accused of the savage beating death of a young pregnant mother and college student who was killed outside Philadelphia Traffic Court in February of 2011.

Walter Williams and Robert Canada are charged with the slaying of 21 year-old Tovoyia Owens, who was murdered on Feb. 7, 2011. According to investigators, on the day in question, Owens and her boyfriend were in the process of leaving traffic court at 8th and Spring Garden Streets after clearing up some tickets. While outside they got into an ugly altercation with four males, during which Owens, who was pregnant at the time, was kicked and punched repeatedly.

Lt. Ray Evers, spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department, told the Tribune in a previous interview that a long simmering dispute between Owens’ brother and the defendants sparked the altercation. During the fight, one of the assailants struck Owens in the head and she hit her head on the pavement. The medical examiner determined that Owens died from blunt force trauma.

Owens was taking classes at Cheyney University and also worked as a pharmacy technician at a Rite Aid. She also had 5 year-old daughter. Her death is just one of the many cases of women who are assaulted or murdered because of domestic violence. According to the National Institute of Justice, the national scope of domestic abuse – ranging from the effects on children to the long-term ramifications to adults who have been traumatized is a widespread problem. And, research shows that women experience more intimate partner violence than men.

Research also shows that approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men are physically assaulted by an intimate partner every year in the United States.

  • The National Violence Against Women Survey (NVAWS) found that 17.6 percent of surveyed women and 3 percent of surveyed men were raped at some point in their lifetime.
  • Stalking is more prevalent than previously thought: 8.1 percent of surveyed women and 2.2 percent of surveyed men reported being stalked at some time in their life; 1.0 percent of women surveyed and 0.4 percent of men surveyed reported being stalked in the 12 months preceding the survey. Approximately 1 million women and 371,000 men are stalked annually in the United States.
  • Intimate partner homicides make up 40-50 percent of all murders of women in the United States according to city or State specific databases. In 70-80 percent of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder
  • The majority of more than 36 studies reviewed indicate that approximately 30 to 60 percent of children whose mothers are being abused are themselves likely to be abused
  • The majority of more than 36 studies reviewed indicate that approximately 30 to 60 percent of children whose mothers are being abused are themselves likely to be abused
  • While alcohol is not the cause of violence against women, there appears to be a significant relationship between male perpetrator problem drinking and violence against intimate female partners. Findings also suggest that severe problem drinking of alcohol increases the risk for lethal and violent victimization of women in violent intimate partner relationships. More than two-thirds of the homicide and attempted homicide offenders used alcohol, drugs, or both during the incident; less than one-fourth of the victims did.